Augustana Observer

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Augustana Observer

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos speaks on plans to combat the climate crisis

On Wednesday 6 November, Representative Cheri Bustos addressed a room of young constituents and Augustana students and faculty. She spoke at length about her plans to address the climate crisis in Illinois’s 17th congressional district.
Evidence of the crisis can be seen off to the sides of highways: flooded fields, farmers unable to harvest. This region is seeing 100-500 year floods with increasing frequency.
Congresswoman Bustos is originally from Springfield Illinois and agriculture is very much part of her story. She says that Illinois has great farmland: ‘It’s who we are.’
She brought her background with her when she went to Washington. Her chief aim is to make farmers part of the solution instead of being seen as part of the problem. She wants to give farmers a seat at the table. It is with this aim in mind that she created the Rural Green Partnership (RGP), a set of policies geared to lower greenhouse gas emissions and promote economic growth.
‘I want to have a seat at the table, we could show that we don’t want people pointing the finger at us as if we are always part of the problem, but that we can be part of the solution.’
For Congresswoman Bustos, lowering emissions and creating economic growth go hand in hand. RGP aims to expand and improve conservation programs including carbon capture projects. It will also provide zero and low interest loans to help incentivise the expansion of renewable energy like wind and solar.
She submitted the RGP to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, of which she is a member.
On 29 October, the Congresswoman introduced the Invest CO2 Act which builds on the RGP principles to create a program to provide loans for carbon capture, transportation, and storage. It is an example of how the RGP is what Congresswoman Bustos calls a piece of living legislation.
An Augustana student asked how she would pay for the many ideas that fall under the RGP umbrella, she responded with a critique of the tax reform bill passed by the Trump administration:
‘The problem with the tax bill that passed under this administration is: 83% of benefits went to the top 1%, and that creates a problem… I don’t think it is going to change under the current political structure’
Congresswoman Bustos referred to the Pay-As-You-Go Act – PAYGO – that requires legislation passed by Democrats to have attached a method of payment so that the legislation would not contribute to the national debt.
This week, Congresswoman Bustos will testify before the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis in support of the RGP.

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Congresswoman Cheri Bustos speaks on plans to combat the climate crisis